Getting the Best Body Ever with Mental Toughness Training (Part 9)


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Although it doesn’t seem like an ab movement, deadlifts are one of the best ways to get your abs to pop out like with this CrossFit chick.

(In the last part to this continuing series on getting tighter and leaner body, I started to talk about how to get a six pack. Before getting into the specific methods on how to achieve washboard abs, I talk about the main function of your abdominal muscles which is to protect your spine from collapsing. In order to guard your spine, I follow the Kelly Starrett method of getting your whole body tight: get your shoulders back, tighten your belly as if somebody is going to punch you, squeeze your glutes and screw your feet into the ground. By stabilizing your overall body as tight as possible, you are protecting your spine, but also indirectly working out your abs as well.) 

So getting your body stiff and remaining tight during a movement will not only save your back from injury, but the key to getting that elusive flat stomach that we all dream and wish we had. This tight bracing indirectly works your core harder than traditional crunching motions, especially when you squeeze your abs hard while doing full-body movements like squats, deadlifts, push-ups, or pull-ups. At first, it is hard to conceive that compound movements works your midsection more than a direct abdominal movement like crunches, but it does. The science is overwhelming that full-body movements engages more muscles in your midsection than your traditional ab movements that we all have done millions of time with little to show for. To take advantage of this natural stimulation of your abs during full-body movements, you want to make it conscious effort to tighten your belly as hard as you can before and during a movement. By doing so, you will take abdominal training to another level. The right level to finally get those abs that you have been trying for years to get.

This principle of getting your overall body as tight as possible is crucial especially when you are lifting heavier loads than normal on your strength days. Getting your body tight is important for all the movements, but particularly when you are going heavy. Could you imagine what can happen if you are going for a heavy PR in your back squat, deadlift or military press with a loose midsection? That’s right, a potential disaster. Without stability in your abs, you won’t be able to handle extreme heavy load. For a military press or squat that means the weight can come crashing down on you. For a deadlift, an unstable midsection by default can cause your back to round. Deadlifting with a rounded back is just asking for trouble and appointments at your local chiropractor office.

When it comes to training, safety is always a number one priority. So this bracing concept bears repeating: the tighter you can get your body will lifting a heavy load, the more you will save your back from blowing out a disk. This bracing method is twofold. Not only are you are protecting your spine, but getting your abs to pop out in the meantime. Getting your body to be stiff as a board is a double win-win situation for safety and vanity.

This stability advice for ab training is so opposite of the traditional mainstream way of crunches and sit-ups. The main problem with a “folding motion” like crunches and sit-ups is that these movement requires you to do a hip flexion motion, which isn’t a good thing. It is actually quite dangerous. If you do a lot of crunches, you put too much stress on your lower back which can lead to all sorts of back problems. A little is okay, but let me remind you all again – the purpose your abs is to prevent this folding motion from happening.

I know this all may sound counter-intuitive, especially if you have been brainwashed by the mainstream that endless sit-ups and crunches are the ways to get abs to die for. Don’t worry, we all have been fooled and mislead by bad ab info. For years, I did countless crunches and what’s even more embarrassing, I had my clients do endless leg raises, weighted sit-ups with zero results and probably ended up destroying their back.

(To be continued)

Today’s strength day WOD:

5 sets of 5 reps


Military press

Back squats

Good mornings

Barbell roll outs

Let’s continue the theme of bracing the abs hard and tight before you get under load and during the movement. It is important to get tight before you begin. If your abs are loose before you touch the weight and you tighten up right before you begin the lift, it is already too late. You most likely will over extend and put your back in a precarious position. So always before you touch the weights: get your shoulders back, brace the abs, squeeze the glutes and screw your feet into the ground.

During all the movements today, really focus on tensing your abs as hard as can throughout the lift. This is your number one priority today. During your rest in between sets repeat the following mantra over and over in your head: By squeezing my abs hard, I will be protect my back and get the six pack that I always dreamed of. Drill this mantra in your head. Trust me, when it comes to strength days or metabolic conditioning WODs, we all get distracted easily and lose our focus. So today, go overboard and overdo it by reminding your over and over the importance of being stable and the aesthetic benefits of doing it.

Now only will your form be better, but you’ll look better neeeeked because of it.

A win-win situation for your strength and your looks.

Scale back version of today’s WOD:

1. Do three sets of three reps.

Acceptable alternatives:

1. You can use dumbbells for the presses. If you have an ab wheel, you can you use that over a barbell for the roll outs.

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